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Connect Up event prepares local companies for exports

Connect Up event prepares local companies for exports

Forming part of the Wesgro Connect pilot programme, Wesgro, Cape Town and the Western Cape’s official Tourism, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency hosted a Connect Up networking session at the Two Oceans Aquarium on Wednesday, 3 September.

The Connect Up session which accommodated a targeted group of local businesses by invite only, consisted of interactive discussions between local business people wanting to know more about exports and Captains of Industry who shared their expertise in areas such as Customs and Excise, VAT, Business Development Strategies and Exchange Control.

Soraya Mohideen, Project Manager on the Wesgro Connect programme believes that one of the ways for companies to accelerate their exports is to be paired with experts who have vast knowledge in the field: “We know that for a company to enter a foreign market is not easy and there are barriers that may hinder their expansion which could be detrimental to our entrepreneurs. The Connect Up sessions aim to address some of these barriers and equip potential exporters with the necessary expertise to avoid pitfalls,” says Mohideen.

Based on a speed dating concept, Connect Up gives local companies the opportunity to engage directly with Captains of Industry as they exchange fresh ideas, valuable information and gain insights into maximising their business export potential.

Connect Up forms part of a pilot programme led by Wesgro and the City of Cape Town which aims to assist local businesses in growing their market linkages and fast-track companies who are export-ready or already exporting.

“Many businesses had the theoretical background but didn’t know how to apply it,” says Mohideen who conducted the initial survey and impact assessment and now heads a team tasked to deliver the pilot.

“There are no similar national programmes with an export focus and the City decided to conduct Export Market Linkages and Export Mentorship programmes to determine the scale of a possible full implementation. This has led to the birth of the Wesgro Connect programme.

The Wesgro Connect Programme will see knowledge transfers from mentors to a group of SMME’s who are already exporting or are export-ready. “We are recruiting mentors on a voluntary basis, with the criterion being that they have export experience and reside in the Western Cape,” she adds.

With the Market Linkages Programme, Wesgro aims to connect businesses with sector development agencies, export councils and other industry bodies. “Using both Wesgro’s strengths and that of these organisations, we hope to help the exporter get their products out to the right market at the right time.” The pilot programme will focus on exports to BRICS countries, Middle East and Africa.  Criteria for businesses which are selected for the Market Linkages Programme is that they must be export-ready.

“The purpose of these programmes is to mitigate unique barriers to entry facing exporters such as lack of resources, export expertise, identifying reliable agents and customers with the end goal of growing exports from the Western Cape exponentially. Boosting exports is one way of growing a sustainable economy,” she adds.

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